I am a massive fan of Woody Allen’s films. I don’t think anyone even comes close to his intelligence and wit in storytelling, his insight into human behaviour is uncanny, and his unique directing style is simple yet distinctly his own. He is a master of silly slapstick humor, tender relationship stories, deep emotional drama and some of the best one liners in the history of cinema. He also writes women characters better than anyone out there. There is only one Woody Allen. His latest film is Blue Jasmine.
It is the story of Jasmine, played by Cate Blanchett, a New York socialite used to all the things that are good in life. But when her husband (Alec Baldwin) is convicted of financial fraud, Jasmine is left with nothing leaving her to travel to San Francisco and stay with her grocery bagging sister (Sally Hawkins) and deal with picking up the pieces of her life.
Unlike the romantic comedy/drama’s that Allen is best known for, Blue Jasmine leans into the more serious fare that he has done in films like Interiors and Another Woman, but still retains some of a comedy edge. Blanchett is wonderful as the acerbic and heavy drinking Jasmine, a fascinating character study in someone who must cope with a reality far from what she is used to that may not have a cheery future. Jasmine is unlikable is so many ways, but is also sad and vulnerable. She is a product of a life that was never real to begin with and to see her dealing with it all falling apart is quite something. The entire cast, as is the usual in Allen films, are stellar down the smallest part. And the unusual casting of comedians Louis C.K. and Andrew Dice Clay are pleasant surprises as each one turns in an interesting and layered performance. Allen really has a knack for writing characters that are disintegrating or dealing with major life shifts and Jasmine just might be one of his best. She is a chameleon that tries to deal with everything as it occurs but in doing do really deals with nothing at all. She is incapable of really knowing what to do and has no support system at all to make it on her own. All of Blanchett’s award nominations are very well deserved and Woody Allen turns in another winner.
The Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is excellent with great colors, clarity and detail and a beautiful portrait of San Francisco to boot. Woody’s films are always insightful postcards of the cities he films in and Blue Jasmine is no exception. Highly recommended.
Available January 21, 2014 on Blu-ray and DVD.